The mission of Safe Zone at MSU is to promote an inviting and inclusive environment that is emotionally and physically safe for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff. This is achieved through (1) increasing awareness and education aboutLGBTQ+ identity, (2) developing and expanding MSU’s network ofLGBTQ+ allies as well as increasing visibility of designated ally Safe Zones on campus, and (3) decreasing individual and institutional heterosexism and transnegativity.
The Safe Zone program, a joint effort between the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons and Counseling and Psychological Services, works to deliver educational trainings and increase awareness of LGBTQ+ identity and allyship. The program exists to acknowledge and support members of our community who identify within theLGBTQ+ spectrum.
Safe Zone trainers consist of a team of interdisciplinary staff, faculty, and students within the university who are dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community through education, training, and support. Our volunteer Safe Zone trainers are committed to fostering a campus climate where students, faculty and staff of all genders and sexual identities thrive. The volunteers have undergone training and work to educate other members of the MSU community to be both understanding and supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals.
It is our belief that promoting a campus environment that is more accepting and inclusive is beneficial to the growth and development of the MSU community as a whole. The Safe Zone symbol identifies MSU members who can provide a safe place to talk about issues that impact LGBTQ+ individuals, connect them to additional resources when needed, and support the diversity that LGBTQ+ individuals add to the campus community.
Why Safe Zone?
Research suggests that a reduction in discrimination towards any group provides a decrease in discrimination towards other groups as well; thus, everyone benefits. Students, faculty, and staff at MSU who identify as LGBTQ+ may not always feel safe about disclosing their sexual identity due to potential negative reactions or consequences. This may lead to feelings of isolation or invisibility and experiences of campus life as hostile, uninviting, and/or un-accepting. Safe Zone provides an avenue forLGBTQ+ individuals to be able to identify places and people who are supportive, non-judgmental, and welcoming of open dialogues regarding these issues.
This past year, 268 students, faculty, staff, and adminstrators at Montana State University participated in a Safe Zone training.
How can I get involved?
- Attend an LGBTQ+ awareness and education Module 1 workshop offered each fall and spring.
- Become a Safe Zone Ally by attending Ally Development Module 2 training. Safe Zone Allies display Safe Zone signs or buttons to denote their support and to signify safe, welcoming places on campus for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Attend Module 3 to explore implicit bias and how this may get enacted through microaggressions.
- Request a workshop for your student organization, department or office.
- Become a Safe Zone trainer. Each fall, we hold trainer trainings to develop a network of volunteers to lead training workshops throughout the year.
What does it mean to be a Safe Zone Ally?
Individuals who complete the process of becoming an MSU-trained Safe Zone Ally recognize the presence and value of LGBTQ+ individuals in our community. Safe Zone Allies also believe that campuses and communities are enriched by the diversity of LGBTQ+ individuals and are willing to assist individuals in accessing support and information resources on campus and in the community. Safe Zone Allies also agree to practice use of inclusive language, avoid stereotyping and assumption of heterosexuality and cisgender identity. Finally, Safe Zone Allies agree to be supportive and affirming to students, staff and faculty who wish to talk about being LGBTQ+.
Do I have to be LGBTQ+ to be a Safe Zone Ally?
The Safe Zone program welcomes people of all genders and sexual identities to participate. Displaying the Safe Zone decal and identifying as an ally does not indicate how a person identifies related to their gender or sexual identity. Safe Zone allies recognize and are committed to the ongoing process of education, growth, and support.